Eleven lions die at Ugandan national park in suspected poisoning

Authorities suspect poisoning caused deaths at popular tourist destination

Lions
 Eleven lions were found dead in Queen Elizabeth national park Photograph: Alamy

Eleven lions, including eight lion cubs, have been found dead in Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda after possibly being poisoned, a conservation official said on Thursday. The three lionesses and eight cubs were found dead near Hamukungu fishing village in the popular tourist destination.

“An investigation has been opened, but we suspect poisoning,” said Bashir Hangi, a communications officer with the Uganda wildlife authority. “It is still only a suspicion. We will try to establish the real cause of death.”

Lions have been killed in a number of poisoning incidents in Uganda. In May 2010, five were killed in the park in another possible poisoning case. Between May 2006 and July 2007, 15 lions died in the area in attacks blamed on landless herdsmen defending their cattle.

The parks grasslands are home to more than 600 species of bird and about 100 types of mammal including buffalo, waterbuck, leopards, hyena and elephants.

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Wildlife Services: The Worst of the Worst

Article posted by C.A.S.H. Committee To Abolish Sport Hunting

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

By Jim Robertson

bobcat heads
Photo taken by an outraged employee of another government agency. Jim Robertson received permission to use this photograph by Brooks Fahey of Predator Defense. Please visit: 
www.predatordefense.org/USDA.htm

Never in human history has a more self-serving, damaging and persistent lie been perpetuated than the patently false notion that non-human animals lack consciousness. I mean, who came up with the idea, anyway? Some human, no doubt! Thankfully for the animals’ sake, we’ve come far beyond that kind of thinking these days.

Yet, the United States Department of Agriculture’s shadowy take-lethal-action-against-natural-predators-any-time-they-might-even-cast-a-sideways-glance-at-a-farm-animal division, the inaptly named “Wildlife Services,” a government agency that tries to claim science as its moral guide, conveniently ignores modern peer-reviewed studies such as the findings of 16 scientists in the 2014 Convention for Consciousness, which states:

“Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

And the Delegation for Scientific Expertise takes it a step further, including fish, invertebrates—and those institutionally exploited species whose rights and well-being the agenda-driven humans would rather not have to acknowledge—to the thinking, feeling fold:

“Livestock species, such as poultry, pigs, and sheep, exhibit cognitive behaviors that seem to imply levels and contents of consciousness that until recently were considered exclusive to humans and to some primates. That is even more the case for fish and invertebrates that until recently were not even considered as sentient.”

But like Cartesian vivisectionists of dark ages past, USDA’s Wildlife Services must secretly wish that animals were unconscious so they could carry out their cruelties without protest from struggling victims (or their advocates).

When Wildlife “Services” speaks of animal suffering, it’s with the callous disassociation—indeed, the downright disregard and doublespeak—of the friendly neighborhood psychopath. And like a psychopath, the only reason they “care” about anything or anyone is when they think it affects them somehow. To the agency, wild animals are just resources and the “services” they perform are for the sake of industry—certainly not for the animals themselves:

“Pain and physical restraint can cause stress in animals and the inability of animals to effectively deal with those stressors can lead to distress. Suffering occurs when action is not taken to alleviate conditions that cause pain or distress in animals. Defining pain as a component in humaneness appears to be a greater challenge than that of suffering.”

In the words of Wildlife Watch’s own Anne Muller: “particularly galling is their analysis of ‘suffering’ and ‘pain,’ discussed as though they have a shred of concern for the individual animal or would know the meaning of the words ‘pain and suffering’ in animals at the most superficial level.”

murdered wolf
Photo by Wildlife Services

One group devoted to ending the terrible reign of Wildlife Services is Predator Defense. The following overview and kill data is from their website: “Wildlife Services is a strategically misnamed federal program within the USDA that wastes millions of dollars each year killing wild animals with traps, snares, poisons, gas, and aerial gunning at the request of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby. According to their official reports, they have slaughtered over 34 million animals in the last decade. Even worse, we’ve had whistleblowers tell us repeatedly that Wildlife Services’ real kill numbers are significantly higher, just not reported.

In 2016 alone they claim to have killed 2.7 million animals, including the following vital native predators:

76,859 coyotes
997 bobcats
410 bears
415 wolves
332 mountain lions”

(For more on the savage escapades of Wildlife Services, watch the film, Exposed, by Predator Defense: www.predatordefense.org/exposed/index.htm)

The late ornithologist and evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, asked at the end of his book, What Evolution Is (one of 25 books on the subject to his name written over his 100 years of life), “How did human consciousness evolve? The answer is actually quite simple: from animal consciousness! There is no justification in the wide-spread assumption that consciousness is a unique human property… It is quite certain that human consciousness did not arise full-fledged with the human species, but as the most highly evolved end point of a long evolutionary history.”

And as Marc Bekoff, PhD, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, wrote in his column for Psychology Today:

“…sentient nonhuman beings care about what happens to themselves and to family members and friends, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect for who they are, not what we want them to be. …animals’ lives are valuable because they are alive — they have what is referred to as inherent value — not because of what they can do for us — what is called their instrumental value. It’s about time that we welcome them into our world and the arena of conscious beings.”

Of course, no one in the know and without a self-serving agenda would ever think of checking with the USDA “Wildlife Services” about anything having to do with animal awareness or intelligence—after all, they are in the business of depersonalizing animals so they can justify killing them. But for a government agency that is supposed to be utilizing science, they’re clearly behind the times. You could say their grasp of reality for animals is almost stone-aged.

Speaking of stone-aged thinkers, ironically, sport hunters, trappers and fishermen must “instinctively” know, almost as well as anyone, that animals are aware. Heck, what challenge would there be to their chosen sports if animals couldn’t think for themselves and make an effort to hide or escape? And just think what would happen to the camouflage clothing industry if animals somehow became unthinking, unfeeling robots that did not fear their pursuers.

helicoper hunting
Photo by Wildlife Services

To question whether or not animals are conscious is so absurd that one might wonder if it’s the animal-sentience deniers who lack awareness instead. In a satirical intro to the chapter, “Inside the Hunter’s Mind,” of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I turn the argument back on the exploiters themselves: “Hunters were once thought of as automatons: robots programmed to react to stimuli but lacking the ability to think and feel. But radical new studies have tentatively shown them to be capable of grasping simple grammar and the meanings of certain symbols (especially those lit up in neon in front of their favorite tavern or mini-mart).

If an attempt at humor seems out of place, consider this, the subject matter is so grim, gruesome or ghastly, that only a sport hunter and/or Wildlife Services agent would want to dwell there, mentally, for more than a fleeting moment or two. Now, not all hunters or trappers have jobs with the USDA Wildlife Services, but you can bet your bottom dollar that nearly all Wildlife Services agents are sport hunters and trappers in their spare time, in addition to being poisoners and aerial gunners when they’re on the clock.

Those in the Wildlife Services are clearly the worst of the worst. If you ever slip up and find yourself pitying some of these people whom you might hear about being lost in a plane crash or a rollover accident on a gravel back road, remember, they are the ones who aerial shoot, snare, trap, poison, etc. countless coyotes, bears, foxes, bobcats, wolves, cougars, etc., etc. Talk about unconscious, Wildlife Services must lack something else non-human animals have proven to posses: feelings like guilt, remorse or empathy for others—a conscience.


Jim Robertson is the President of C.A.S.H. and author of Exposing The Big Game.

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

Poulsbo man charged in Alaska for hunting crimes

ANCHORAGE — A Poulsbo man charged earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Alaska is being accused of illegally leading a hunt for Dall sheep inside a national park and falsifying documents.

Jeffrey Harris, 44, also allegedly wrote to another man, who was also charged, that he planned to plant two dead rabbits, tainted with a substance called xylitol that is poisonous to wolves and coyotes, at a bear baiting station. Xylitol is a sweetener that is deadly to canines and birds, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska.

“Let them snatch them and have a sweet treat,” Harris allegedly wrote in a Facebook message, obtained by federal investigators according to court documents. Harris was charged for the poisoning as well.

Harris was employed as a horse wrangler and maintenance worker for Ptarmigan Lake Lodge, which provided guided hunting trips at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the country’s largest national park. Harris, who was not authorized to guide hunts, is accused of illegally leading in 2014 one of the hunts that resulted in the shooting of a sheep. Harris is then accused of falsifying documents to hide his involvement. The person who shot the sheep paid $4,000.

Harris is also accused of illegally trafficking a harvested blonde grizzly bear, then knowingly filing falsified reports, misstating the date the bear was shot as it was out of season, according to court documents.

Two other men were charged in connection to the case, Dale Lackner, 72, from Haines, Alaska, and Casey Richardson, 47, from Huson, Montana.

Kootenay conservation officers believe someone intentionally poisoning wolves

2 wolves dead of suspected poisoning; officers believe there may be more

By Matt Meuse, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT Last Updated: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. <https://i.cbc.ca/1.3961702.1485969914%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/lone-wolves.jpg>

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. (Shutterstock / Dennis W Donohue)

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay are investigating after the discovery of two wolves they believe were intentionally poisoned.

Conservation officer Greg Kruger said poison was first discovered in early March in the Dutch Creek region, west of Canal Flats — an area known for its active wolf population.

“Where all these … poison containers have been found are all areas that we know are wolf travel corridors,” Kruger said. “So our investigation is looking at someone specifically targeting the wolf population.”

Discovered by dog owner

Kruger said a man contacted them in early March after his dog found and ate from something that looked like a white cupcake container in the area.

“Within a few minutes, that dog became ill [and] started having convulsions,” Kruger said.

The dog was treated by a vet and survived. Conservation officers investigated the area, and, over the course of a few weeks, found 17 different batches of poison along the same road within several kilometres of each other.

Kruger said a sample of the suspected poison tested positive for strychnine — a toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison.

Likely more dead wolves, poison traps

Then, in early April, two wolf carcasses were reported to conservation officers by members of the public.

Kruger said toxicology tests have not yet come back, but officers suspect poisoning, as there is no evidence of any other cause of death.

Kruger says it’s likely there are more dead wolves in less publicly accessible places that have yet to be discovered — and possibly more poison.

“[The containers we found] are all white, so we believe they were placed in the snow to blend in so they wouldn’t be detected,” Kruger said. “We’ve only found them since the snow has started to melt.”

Kruger asked anyone with information to contact the East Kootenay Conservation Officer Service.

He said under the Wildlife Act anyone found to be intentionally poisoning wolves could face a fine of up to $1 million and more than a year in jail.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kootenay-wolf-poisonings-1.4121946

Dog’s Death Spotlights Use of Cyanide ‘Bombs’ to Kill Predators

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/wildlife-watch-wildlife-services-cyanide-idaho-predator-control/

One of the weapons the U.S. government uses to poison predators killed a pet Labrador in Idaho, sparking new calls to ban the devices.

Fourteen-year-old Canyon Mansfield was out walking the family Labrador, Casey, on public land in the outskirts of Pocatello, Idaho, last month. As they roamed a hill near their home, Canyon spied a piece of metal protruding from the snowy ground that resembled the head of a garden sprinkler. When he bent down to touch it, the device exploded, jolting him off his feet and emitting a powdery substance. Some of the granules got into his eyes, which he scrubbed out with wet snow.

The bulk of the substance blew downwind into Casey’s face. Within a minute the dog was writhing with convulsions, a reddish foam emanating from his mouth. In front of Canyon, the yellow Lab made guttural sounds then went still.

Heeding the cries for help, Canyon’s parents, Theresa and Mark Mansfield, rushed to the scene. Theresa cradled the dog while Mark, a family physician, administered chest compressions. He was about to try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when Canyon shouted, “Don’t do it, Dad, I think Casey’s been poisoned.”

All three of them had some of the residue on their skin and clothes. Only by luck did it not get into their mucous membranes, and only later did they learn that this wasn’t just any poison. It was sodium cyanide—a federal Category One toxicant and one of the deadliest substances on Earth.

“When it went off, I was so confused because it caught me by surprise and happened so fast,” Canyon said. “I panicked because the next thing I knew Casey was dying.” Since the incident Canyon has been suffering from headaches, a telltale symptom of exposure to cyanide.

Sodium cyanide is considered by the Department of Homeland Security to be a potential weapon for terrorists. It’s a key ingredient in the M-44s, or “cyanide bombs,” used by Wildlife Services, an obscure agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to kill wildlife predators on public and private lands in the West.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an average of 30,000 M-44s, deployed by the federal government in concert with Western states and counties, are triggered each year. Baited to entice animals, they’re indiscriminate in their victims. So far, no humans have been killed by M-44s. But according to an investigation by theSacramento Bee, 18 Wildlife Services employees and several other people were exposed to cyanide by M-44s between 1987 and 2012, and between 2000 and 2012 the devices killed more than 1,100 dogs.

Established 120 years ago under a different name, Wildlife Services exists primarily for the benefit of the livestock industry. The agency spends more than $120 million a year killing animals deemed “nuisances” to humans: everything from coyotes and wolves to mountain lions, bears, foxes, bobcats, prairie dogs, and birds (in part to prevent collisions with planes at airports). During the past decade the agency has killed some 35 million animals. It killed 2.7 million in 2016 alone.

In recent disclosure forms Wildlife Services reported that out of 76,963 coyotes killed in 2016 for livestock protection, 12,511 were felled with M-44s. Another 30,000 were gunned down by sharpshooters from fixed-wing planes and helicopters, and 15,000 more died in choking neck snares.

WILDLIFE SERVICES ADHERES TO A MIND-SET BETTER SUITED TO ROGUE COWBOY CULTURE OF THE 19TH CENTURY.

PETER DEFAZIO U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

“Predators are a problem [for ranchers], and some of the predators are a problem for game animals,” says John Peavey, a longtime rancher near Carey, Idaho, who has battled coyotes and wolves getting into his cattle herds and sheep flocks. “These devices [M-44s], ugly as they are, are important. They should be highly supervised. They should not be set close to places where people recreate. But they are a tool, especially if properly used.”

While Peavey has sympathy for the Mansfields, he says the press has a fascination with writing only about the predator controversies and poisons when the real issue is maintaining the condition of Western rangelands. He believes some anti-livestock activists are using the poison issue to renew calls for prohibiting cattle and sheep from grazing on public lands.

For decades, however, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and some politicians have pushed for Wildlife Services to be radically reformed—if not abolished—arguing that it’s an anachronism.

“Wildlife Services, with much of what it does, adheres to a mind-set better suited to rogue cowboy culture of the 19th century, and it’s just not consistent anymore with modern values,” U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, told National Geographic by phone last week. Over the years DeFazio has pressed for investigations into Wildlife Services related to alleged animal cruelty, budget irregularities, illegal use of toxic chemicals, and convoluted statistics as to how many animals it actually destroys. “It’s an agency that lacks transparency and accountability, and I believe it’s out of control,” De Fazio said.

In a documentary titled, EXPOSED: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, former agency trappers corroborate that assertion.

DeFazio said the agency has managed to dodge significant oversight in Congress because of resistance from lawmakers, primarily in the West, who say that lethal removal of predators is essential to protecting the livelihoods of ranchers grazing cattle and sheep on public and private lands.

INCIDENT UNDER REVIEW

Following Casey’s death, Wildlife Services has been mostly silent.

In response to repeated phone calls from National Geographic to offices at local, regional, and national levels, its Washington, D.C., communications office issued the same written statement it circulated on March 17 and has made no further comment since. The statement noted that the incident was under review, that procedures are designed to minimize unintentional run-ins with pets, that precautions were taken and signs put up as warnings, and that such accidents are rare, this being the first in Idaho involving M-44s since 2014.

Dan Argyle, a captain in the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, told National Geographic that no warning signs were observed at the scene and that a second M-44 had been positioned nearby, then removed by the trapper who put it there.

“As a program made up of individual employees, many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses,” the Wildlife Services statement says. “We are grateful that the individual who was with his dog when it activated the M-44 device was unharmed, however, we take this possible exposure to sodium cyanide seriously and are conducting a thorough review of this inPHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THERESA MANSFIELD

The statement concluded: “Wildlife Services provides expert federal leadership to responsibly manage one of our nation’s most precious resources—our wildlife. We seek to resolve conflict between people and wildlife in the safest and most humane ways possible, with the least negative consequences to wildlife overall. Our staff is composed of highly skilled wildlife professionals who are passionate about their work to preserve the health and safety of people and wildlife.”

On its website, Wildlife Services describes the way M-44s work: “The M-44 device is triggered when a canid (i.e. coyote or wild dog) tugs on the baited capsule holder, releasing the plunger and ejecting sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The sodium cyanide quickly reacts with moisture in the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas. Unconsciousness, followed by death, is very quick, normally within 1 to 5 minutes after the device is triggered. Animals killed by sodium cyanide appear to show no overt signs of distress or pain.”

The Mansfields, incredulous at that description, say their dog suffered an agonizing death.

Sander Orent, a toxicologist in Boulder, Colorado, has for decades been tracking the USDA’s sanctioning of biocides—including a variation of M-44s called “coyote getters,” which also use cyanide, and lethal collars around the necks of sheep filled with deadly sodium fluoroacetate—to control predator populations. Of death by M-44 he said, “You could compare it to the recent sarin gas attack in Syria because the concept of how cyanide kills is similar. It basically suffocates any living being it comes in contact with. It ties up the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. When that dog is gasping for air, it experiences an extremely uncomfortable feeling of panic and desperation, then it convulses and dies. For an animal experiencing it and a person watching it happen, it would be horrifying.”

Orent, who has served as a scientific adviser to conservationists, said that animals as large as horses and cows have died from coming in contact with M-44s. “They’re frickin’ dangerous, especially when baited. It makes me think of war-torn parts of the world where munitions are meant to look attractive to children so they pick them up.”

According to Orent, who said it was incredibly lucky that neither Canyon nor his parents died or were seriously injured, “There’s no compelling scientific justification for these devices. I think it’s awful a society like ours still allows them to be used, because they’re not necessary.”

PREDATOR AND LIVESTOCK DEATHS

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service publishes an annual report on causes of death for livestock. In most parts of the West, predators rank behind disease, bad weather, and accidents when it comes to livestock deaths.

Predators kill more sheep than cattle, and Idaho ranks in the upper tier of sheep-producing states. In Idaho in 2014 (the most recent year for which numbers are available) predators were blamed for the loss of about 4,600 of the 16,000 lambs and adult sheep that died. (Conservationists dispute the figures.) Most of the losses were lambs taken by coyotes. Predators killed less than one percent of adult sheep. Bad weather, unknown non-predator causes, and lambing problems accounted for most deaths.

The state and federal government pay compensation for livestock killed by wolves, and in some cases Idaho reimburses ranchers for animals taken by mountain lions and black bears. Damages are not paid for kills by coyotes. Payments can range from a couple of hundred dollars for a lamb to a few thousand dollars for a cow.

Consistent statistics are often out of date, and it’s hard to reconcile different numbers presented by various agencies. Ranchers often say predators take more livestock than are officially reported, but some former Wildlife Services trappers, such as Carter Niemeyer, who wrote a memoir titled Wolfer about his career as an animal control specialist, say predator kills are often exaggerated and that statistics put into reports can’t always be trusted.

BLACK-FOOTED FERRETS, THE MOST ENDANGERED LAND MAMMAL IN NORTH AMERICA, DEPEND ON PRAIRIE DOGS, POISONED IN THE MILLIONS BY WILDLIFE SERVICES.

Niemeyer was a government trapper for several decades before retiring a few years ago. As a senior Wildlife Services director in Montana, he said that he and the agency trappers who reported to him had serious misgivings about using M-44s. “Trappers didn’t like using them because they’re dangerous and kill indiscriminately,” he said. Even when Niemeyer argued that there were better options for controlling coyotes, the agency’s “clients”—ranchers—would demand that M-44s be deployed against his objections, he said, noting that M-44s can indeed kill other non-target species, including wolves, bears, imperiled wolverines, and Canada lynxes.

“I’ve had half a dozen government trappers tell me that ranchers routinely inflate the number of losses that occur,” said Brooks Fahy, founder of Predator Defense, a conservation organization in Eugene, Oregon, devoted to advancing public understanding of predators. In some cases, he said, they “aren’t suffering losses at all, yet they just want Wildlife Services to come in and prophylactically kill predators whether they’re a problem or not.”

Whatever the actual numbers, one recent study showed that the best science done on predator control reveals that non-lethal methods are more effective than lethal ones at reducing livestock losses. But because strategies such as guard dogs, range riders, flashing lights, fencing, lamb sheds, and trapping and relocating predators can be more expensive, they’re less favored.

“The whole premise for Wildlife Services’s existence is based on a crumbling foundation of misinformation,” asserts Wendy Keefover, carnivore protection manager for the Humane Society of the United States, based in Colorado. “Cattle losses from wild carnivores and feral dogs together amount to 0.23 percent of the entire U.S. cattle inventory. For that reason alone it makes no sense for the federal agents to use chemical warfare on animals.”

On April 4 the Humane Society—along with the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Guardians, and the Fund for Animals—sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which, under the domain of the U.S. Department of the Interior Department, has management jurisdiction over endangered species. The lawsuit alleges that the service has failed to consider the impacts of Wildlife Services poisons on protected animals such wolves, grizzly bears, swift foxes, lynxes, raptors, black-footed ferrets, and others. Black-footed ferrets, the most endangered land mammal in North America, depend on a diet of prairie dogs, which have been poisoned in the millions by Wildlife Services. As of April 20, the Fish and Wildlife Service had not responded to the suit.

A FORMER INSIDER’S EXPERIENCE

Sam Sanders, who has a degree in biology from the University of Nevada-Reno, spent seven years, from 2004 to 2011, with Wildlife Services as a trapper and manager in northern Nevada. He called attention, he claims, to alleged violations of the law and protocols, but his complaints fell on deaf ears.

Today Sanders, who resigned from Wildlife Services because he felt the agency wasn’t seriously addressing problems, is an animal control specialist in the private sector. He told National Geographic that he’s regulated more stringently now than he was at Wildlife Services. He still has a few friends at the agency and said that “WS and I compete for a variety of work, including urban work at airports, rural work protecting livestock, and wildlife protection as well. So I’m fairly well informed.”

Contrary to Wildlife Services’ claims of being an industry leader in ethical animal control, Sanders said that not all its agents monitor their equipment (M-44s, leg-hold traps, and snares) in a timely way or post adequate warning signs. With regard to leg-hold traps, Sanders says animals caught in them can linger in pain for a week before they’re put out of their misery.

Sanders doesn’t use M-44s anymore. But, he said, “If you want to control predators, M-44s are effective tools, and there are responsible trappers out there who use them. I know, because I was one of them. But M-44s can be misused, and they have been to the point where stupid things can happen, involving irresponsible management, like the incident in Pocatello.”

And, he added, M-44s are “better from an animal welfare perspective than some of the ready-available alternatives.” People can buy rat poison from hardware stores and pepper it into animal carcasses left as bait for coyotes that can also kill pets and non-target animals. Sanders said he knows of people pouring gasoline into the dens of predators or starting fires that suck all the oxygen out of animal dens, causing death by suffocation. Not long ago he learned of a trapper who claimed to use large treble fishing hooks baited with meat dangling four feet off the ground. Predators reaching for the meat would suffer a gruesome death by choking and hanging.

For those who seek a ban on the use of M-44s, Sanders cautions that “you have to think of unintended consequences. People are going to employ other alternatives and come up with their own,” he said. “Until there’s a better way that solves conflicts between predators and livestock in ranch country, predators are gonna get it one way or another. Just because you ban what you believe is the bad stuff doesn’t mean it will stop the killing.”

IS POCATELLO A TIPPING POINT?

According to Brooks Fahy, public outrage sparked by the death of the Mansfields’ dog represents a tipping point in bringing the kind of scrutiny to bear on Wildlife Services that opponents say has been lacking.

“Wildlife Services has taken a beating for its controversial aerial gunning and gassing of predators, its trapping and snaring, but its use of deadly poisons has been a dirty little secret, especially where it has placed unsuspecting people and their pets in danger,” Fahy said. “This time it can’t run away from the truth.”

The trapper working for the Idaho branch of Wildlife Services mistakenly placed the M-44 that killed Casey on Bureau of Land Management land near the Mansfields’ residential subdivision, despite the agency’s promise last November, following a review of options for dealing with predators, not to use M-44s on public land in Idaho.

“It’s a fact that it was installed on BLM land,” Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told a reporter in Idaho. “It was about 300 yards from the residence, and there were no posted warning signs at the time this happened. All three of those are violations of the protocol.”

CANYON WILL CARRY THE MEMORY OF WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAVORITE DOG FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

THERESA MANFIELD CANYON’S MOTHER

On March 28 Western Watersheds, an advocacy group that monitors effects of livestock grazing on public lands, and 19 other conservation organizations submitted a petition calling on Wildlife Services to end the use of M-44 cyanide bombs in Idaho and retrieve all those now in place in the state.

Wildlife Services complied, ordering three dozen existing M-44s to be removed and temporarily banning use of M-44s in Idaho.

Congressman DeFazio said that doesn’t go far enough and that the ban needs to be applied nationwide. But, he added, at least “Idaho and Wildlife Services are now under a spotlight.” On March 30 DeFazio submitted a House bill, “The Chemical Poison Reduction Act of 2017,” calling for a total ban on M-44s in the name of public health, animal welfare, and national security.

Meanwhile the Bannock County prosecutor’s office is deciding what criminal or misdemeanor charges to bring against Wildlife Services.

Theresa Mansfield told National Geographic that no one from the agency reached out to to express sympathy for the family’s ordeal. She and Canyon went down to the Wildlife Services office in Pocatello and happened to meet the trapper who deployed the M-44.

“When I confronted him face to face, he said, ‘I’m sorry this happened to your son and dog,’ but, really, what else could he do standing in front of an upset mother and her child who could’ve been killed?” Theresa said. “It angers me that no one from Wildlife Services had the decency to reach out. All Wildlife Services did was issue a cut-and-paste statement to the public. I’ve been told they’re unwilling to apologize personally to us because that would be an admission of guilt.”

Fahy said this is consistent with Wildlife Services’ previous responses to other families who lost pets to M-44s or had members get sick by coming in contact with them. “It fits a troubling pattern. In the past Wildlife Services has actually implied that people may seek out M-44s and get their dogs killed so they might sue and collect a huge settlement from the government,” he said. “So their posture is to deny.”

On June 21, 2006, Michael J. Bodenchuk, then the state director of Wildlife Services in Utah, wrote a memo stating why he didn’t want to pay damages to a woman who lost a dog to M-44 poisoning. “I have concerns about the government settling cases with dog owners because it is all too easy for someone to intentionally take a dog into an area posted with signs with the intention of getting the dog killed,” Bodenchuk said.

Theresa and her husband are considering filing a lawsuit against Wildlife Services. They’ve written to President Donald Trump asking him to take action, and they plan to travel to Washington, D.C., in support of DeFazio’s legislation.

Never in their worst dreams, Theresa said, would they have imagined their son becoming a poster child for the need to reform a government agency. For now the couple is focusing on being profoundly grateful that their teenage son is still alive.

“Any time Canyon talks about it, his mood instantly changes,” Theresa said. “He feels responsible for what happened to Casey. He asks, ‘What if I hadn’t touched it? What if I hadn’t gone outside. He questions why he went up that hill, and I tell him that none of this is your fault. Canyon will carry the memory of what happened to his favorite dog for the rest of his life.”

Legislation introduced to ban toxic predator control poisons

  • By Shelbie Harris
  • Mar 31, 2017 

The exposure of toxic, cyanide poisoning to Canyon Mansfield, a 14-year-old Pocatello boy who triggered an M-44 predator control device, and subsequent petitions calling for a permanent ban has recaptured the attention of U.S. lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, has been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of lethal devices like Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide containing M-44 devices for decades. He recently introduced H.R. 1817, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017, which seeks to permanently ban the two deadly poisons for predator control throughout the United States.

“Look, it’s indiscriminate, and there have been numerous instances of domestic dogs being killed, and I’ve said for a number of years that it’s only a matter of time until a kid is killed,” DeFazio said. “And this recent incident in Idaho where the child watched the dog die a horrible death and he was slightly exposed is a sterling example.”

These two poisons are currently used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services predator control program, which according to its own report, killed more than 1.6 million native U.S. animals in 2016.

The device that detonated in Mansfield’s face, sent him to the hospital and, ultimately, killed his dog on March 16 was an M-44. Often known as a “cyanide bomb,” it’s a device used by the USDA to prevent predators such as coyotes from harming livestock on farm and ranch lands. When triggered, the M-44 spews a potentially lethal dose of sodium cyanide powder into whoever or whatever tugs on it.

Compound 1080 is a tasteless, odorless and colorless poison with no antidote. Although the EPA banned Compound 1080 in 1972, after intense lobbying from the livestock industry, it was re-approved for use in the “Livestock Protection Collar” (collars containing the poison that are placed around the necks of sheep and burst when punctured by a predator, barbed wire, or other sharp object) in 1985. Each of these collars contains enough poison to kill six adult humans.

“Even if a sheep is predated on with a 1080 collar, subsequently any carrion-eater that feeds on that is likely to die, that means bald eagles, golden eagles or vultures,” DeFazio said. “This kind of indiscriminate killing just has no place in Wildlife Services or controlling predators that have killed livestock.”

He continued, “They kill domestic animals who are totally innocent and they kill many predators who are innocent of depredation. It’s something that should not be out there for public land, and I don’t think they should be on private land either. If private land owners want to put them out by themselves, not subsidized by the taxpayers, OK, but these devices just need to go.”

The national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense, as well as the Humane Society, supports the new bill.

“The fact that Wildlife Services continues to state that incidents of M-44s killing domestic dogs and exposing people to poison are ‘rare’ is an outrage,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services’ repeated cover-ups. We applaud this legislation and thank Congressman DeFazio for his unfailing support on this issue.”

The USDA’s Wildlife Services Agency regularly uses both sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 their predator control programs, which are subsidized by taxpayers. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called “predator” populations down to help ranchers protect their livestock.

“It’s high time for our own federal government to stop using sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 on our public lands,” said Wayne Pacelle, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “These two poisons are highly lethal but completely indiscriminate. They endanger children, beloved family pets, grizzly bears, wolves and bald eagles alike. And the deaths they cause are violent and inhumane.”

The use of these poisons has led to the deaths of endangered animals and domesticated dogs and has injured multiple people in the past.

Since triggering the M-44 device, Mansfield has experienced headaches, nausea and numbness, the family said Tuesday.

Several formal petitions also surfaced Tuesday, calling for the immediate termination and removal of all devices installed in Idaho by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency. Mark Mansfield, the boy’s father and a local physician, filed one of the petitions directly to the White House.

Backed by a coalition of conservation and wildlife organizations, the Western Watersheds Project also spearheaded a direct formal petition addressed to Jason Suckow, western region director for USDA-Wildlife Services.

An additional petition filed on the website Care2 reached more than 48,000 signatures Friday evening.

“This is something that should end,” DeFazio said. “There is no central control (for Wildlife Services). Each of the state agencies are basically an entity under themselves. Some of them are totally out of control, entering into agreements that they shouldn’t and not following the rules. It’s an agency that is out of control and very dispersed.”

Mark said that although he is new to the political process of implementing new legislation, he is hopeful for change and urges people who come across the petitions to not only sign it, but also share the information on social media as much as possible.

“I’m excited, because the bill is clean, short and precise,” Mansfield said. “There is nothing extra tied to the legislation and in my mind no reasonable human being would be against it.”

E. Ore. counties drop cyanide trap use

http://www.bakercityherald.com/news/local/5195752-151/e-ore-counties-drop-cyanide-trap-use

Wildlife agencies halt practice after gray wolf accidentally killed

Katy Nesbitt

Published Mar 31, 2017 at 01:50PM

ENTERPRISE — Using cyanide traps to kill coyotes was halted in six Eastern Oregon counties to protect the region’s burgeoning wolf population.

Following the unintentional kill of a gray wolf Feb. 10 in Wallowa County, an agreement between Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the agency that manages gray wolves in Eastern Oregon, and USDA Wildlife Services, the federal agency that controls predators on private land, M-44s, spring-activated devices containing cyanide powder, will no longer be used to control predators in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow and Grant counties.

A Shamrock Pack adult male, OR-48, was collared this winter on the Zumwalt Prairie, according to Mike Hansen, assistant Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf biologist at Enterprise. Following his capture and being outfitted with a GPS collar, OR-48 went on a solo trek that took him to Baker County.

The wolf was killed when he encountered an M-44 on its return to Wallowa County. The trap was set by a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agent in an area that at the time was not designated by the state as an area of known wolf activity.

Directly after the incident Rick Hargrave, deputy administrator for ODFW’s Information and Education Division, said his agency was unaware of Wildlife Service’s use of M-44s.

Michelle Dennehy, wildlife communications coordinator, stated in an email after the incident that Wildlife Services informed the state they had removed all M-44s from areas of known wolf activity identified by ODFW.

The agencies are continuing to work together to ensure information about wolf activity is communicated effectively.

“We appreciate that Wildlife Services has voluntarily removed M-44s,” Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division administrator, said. “We also recognize we want to increase our communication between our agencies. We want to develop a more effective system to ensure that Wildlife Services’ staff working in areas with wolves know what ODFW knows about wolf activity.”

After the initial agreement between the state and federal agencies, Dave Williams, Oregon state director for Wildlife Services, said ODFW wanted an extension on the ban of M-44s in much of Northeastern Oregon.

“We were requested in writing by ODFW to immediately discontinue use of M-44s in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Grant and Morrow counties,” Williams said. “Prior to that request we pulled up M-44s in areas of known wolf activity and adjacent to those areas where we felt an additional margin of precaution was needed.”

Dennehy’s email said ODFW does not have regulatory authority over the coyote control work of Wildlife Services or the use of M-44s. However, the two agencies regularly work together on wildlife management including wolf management. Wildlife Services has been an important partner in helping ODFW manage wolf-livestock conflict.

Williams said moving forward it will be important for both agencies to share information on wolf sightings.

“We should know as much as ODFW where wolves are so that we can continue to do our job and continue to use the tools in our toolbox the best we can,” Williams said.

Rep. Peter DeFazio Introduces Legislation to Ban Lethal Poisons Compound 1080, Sodium Cyanide for Predator Control

WASHINGTON—Today Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced H.R. 1817, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017, legislation that would ban the use of the lethal poisons Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide for predator control efforts.

The bill is supported by the national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense, as well as the Humane Society.

“I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of lethal devices and poisons like Compound 1080 and the chemicals used in M-44 devices for decades, even as a Lane County Commissioner,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-OR). “The use of these deadly toxins by Wildlife Services has led to countless deaths of family pets and innocent animals and injuries to humans. It is only a matter of time before they kill someone. These extreme so-called ‘predator control’ methods have been proven no more effective than non-lethal methods—the only difference between the two is that the lethal methods supported by the ranching industry are subsidized by American tax dollars.”

“The fact that Wildlife Services continues to state that incidents of M-44s killing domestic dogs and exposing people to poison are ‘rare’ is an outrage,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director, Predator Defense. “Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services’ repeated cover-ups. We applaud this legislation and thank Congressman DeFazio for his unfailing support on this issue.”

 

“It’s high time for our own federal government to stop using sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 on our public lands,” said Wayne Pacelle, Executive Director, the Humane Society Legislative Fund.” These two poisons are highly lethal but completely indiscriminate. They endanger children, beloved family pets, grizzly bears, wolves and bald eagles alike. And the deaths they cause are violent and inhumane.”

 

Compound 1080 is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless poison with no antidote. Although the EPA banned Compound 1080 in 1972, after intense lobbying from the livestock industry, it was re-approved for use in the “Livestock Protection Collar” (collars containing the poison that are placed around the necks of sheep and burst when punctured by a predator, barbed wire, or other sharp object) in 1985. Each of these collars contains enough poison to kill 6 adult humans.

Sodium cyanide is contained within M-44 devices, which are spring-activated ejectors that deliver a deadly dose of  poison when pulled on. The top of the ejector is wrapped with an absorbent material that has been coated with a substance that attracts canines. When the device is activated, a spring ejects the poison. The force of the ejector can spray the cyanide granules up to five feet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Wildlife Services Agency regularly uses both of these poisons in their predator control programs, which are subsidized by the taxpayer. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called ‘predator’ populations down to help ranchers protect their livestock.

The use of these poisons has led to the deaths of endangered animals and domesticated dogs, and has injured multiple people in the past. Most recently, three domestic dogs were killed in Idaho and Wyoming and a teenage boy was nearly poisoned after he accidentally detonated an M-44 device.

“The federal government should not be using these extreme measures,” Rep. Defazio added. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”

M44 CYANIDE, JUST HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?

http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/story/34977973/m44-cyanide-just-how-dangerous-is-it

Posted: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDTUpdated: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDT

M44 cyanide, just how dangerous is it?
BOZEMAN –It’s a tool often used by Montana ranchers to kill livestock predators, but now, an Oregon congressman wants to ban the use of cyanide traps nationwide.

The M44 cyanide trap has been used by the United States government to control pests since the 1930’s. Montana is one of the few states in the country where ranchers, after being certified, can plant their own devices.

But many are questioning the safety and efficacy of the device. The incident in Idaho is not the first time an M44 has injured or killed the wrong target.

According to the USDA, Wildlife Services is authorized to use M44 cyanide capsules to control coyotes, Wild dogs, and red, gray and arctic foxes which are: suspected of preying upon livestock, poultry, or federally designated threatened and endangered species.

However, Brooks Fahy Executive Director of Predator Defense says thousands of animals die from this cyanide poison every year and just in the past week three dogs have died.

Fahy says, “The vast majority of the animals that they are killing like 99.9 percent of the animals they kill have never prayed on livestock.”

The USDA released a statement about the incident that happened a week ago with the boy and dog in Idaho saying, “We take this possible exposure to sodium cyanide seriously and are conducting a thorough review of this incident.  Wildlife services have removed m-44s in that immediate area, and will work to review our operating procedures to determine whether improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences happening in the future.”

Fahy says there are other options trappers can use other than “cyanide bombs.”

“Practice co-existence in other words proper husbandry practices when your sheep are lambing, guard dogs, fencing, and flattery.”

Jarrod Moss, a vet at Creekside Veterinary Hospital here in Bozeman says if your animal comes in contact with cyanide get them to vet as soon as possible and also make sure you protect yourself in the process.

Brooks says, “Humans are at severe risk of absorbing some of that cyanide through their skin so we need to be very careful when handling your animal, I would recommend wrapping your dog or cat in a towel or shirt, limiting your exposure.”

Fahy recalls an incident involving a man in Utah when he came in contact with the poison.

“Who had an M44 go off in his face and hit him in his chest and he got some of it in his face. He’s been disabled ever since, never able to go back to work.”

USDA says that all applicators are required to carry an antidote kit when applying or inspecting M44s and no human fatalities have been associated with wild services use of M44s.

The bill being put forth by Congressman Defazio is set to for a vote next week. We’ll continue to follow that bill as it progresses.

Pet-killing “Cyanide Bomb” Placed Illegally by Wildlife Services

Agency Promised Public in 2016 that it would stop placing them on Public Lands

BOISE, Ida. — The cyanide bomb that recently killed a family dog in Pocatello, Idaho and poisoned his 14-year-old owner violated government assurances that such poison devices would no longer be used to kill predators on federal public lands in Idaho. A 2016 decision by multiple agencies banned the use of these devices, known as “M-44s,” on all federal land in the state.

“The Bannock County sheriff’s department verified by phone with us today that GPS coordinates for the M-44 involved in the incident place the device on Bureau of Land Management land, despite a decision banning the use of these devices on federal public lands,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “It never should have been there at all.”

A plan for killing predators in Idaho on behalf of the ranching industry was signed late last year by the State, federal government, and Native American tribes, all agreeing to discontinue the use of the explosive cyanide devices on public lands. This poison and other toxins, originally banned during the Nixon administration but subsequently reinstated, had been authorized under a national plan that was decades old. Western Watersheds Project and other environmental groups successfully argued that the use of these chemicals for predator control should be reconsidered, which led to Wildlife Services’ decision to reduce their use.

“M-44s and other traps and toxic chemicals that Wildlife Services uses to kill predators are a public safety hazard,” said Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West.  “If Wildlife Services is putting these devices in places where people recreate or walk their dogs, the public deserves to know about it.”

On other land ownerships, Wildlife Services continues to use cyanide and other poisons at the request of farmers and ranchers to reduce livestock losses. However, these devices are not selective and kill a wide variety of non-target wildlife. Rare species such as lynx, wolverines, and bald eagles, are killed every year. Tragically, the annual list of unintended targets also includes family pets.

“The incredibly dangerous devices kill indiscriminately, and deaths of pets are common,” said Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense. “Unless there are witnesses agencies often don’t record the poisonings. Families are than left to wonder what happened to their dog.”

Last year, agencies spent $99 million in taxpayer dollars to kill 2,744,010 black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, birds, wolves, and other native wildlife species. Almost 77,000 of these animals were coyotes.  Of these, 16% were poisoned by M-44s. There is evidence, however, that killing predators only reduces their numbers temporarily and, in the case of coyotes, may even encourage higher rates of reproduction and dispersal. Non-lethal methods of predator control such as guard animals, loud noises, bright flashing lights, and fencing, may be more successful without the problems associated with lethal control.

“Federal agencies need to stop planting poison land-mines that endanger the public, and asking society to accept cruel and inhumane slaughter of native wildlife simply to subsidize a dwindling livestock industry,” Molvar concluded.

Advocates for the West is a nonprofit environmental law firm that uses law and science to restore streams and watersheds, protect public lands and wildlife, and ensure sustainable communities throughout the American West.

Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

Predator Defense is a nonprofit advocacy group working to protect native predators and end America’s war on wildlife.